Home' New Zealand Golf Magazine : New Zealand Golf Magazine July 2013 Contents of the Atlantic seem likely to have their authority
challenged by a nine-strong group of professionals
-- including recent major champions Webb Simpson,
Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott - all of whom are
devotees of either "belly" putters or their longer
cousin, the "broom-handle."
Such a prospect has provoked a range of opinion
across the world of golf, from those who see any
dissent as damaging to the game, all the way to the
above-named, who see a ban on anchoring as a
threat to their ability to make a living.
"If the option to sue is there, I would support it,"
says Australian Brett Rumford, a devotee of the
broom-handle and twice a winner on the European
Tour this year. "It's not hypocrisy but it's pretty close
to it when you see what the authorities are doing.
"If the argument is that longer putters help
people putt, then surely a 2-iron from a tight lie is a
shitload harder than hitting a hybrid. But that's okay
apparently. Even if that piece of equipment makes it
easier for you to hit tough shots. Which it does and is
why everyone uses them.
"Plus, look at the drivers we use today. Put an old
persimmon wood next to a modern metal and the
di erence is staggering. They are so much easier to
hit nowadays. Then there are the balls we use. The
dimple patterns mean they ly farther and straighter.
But all of that is okay, according to the R&A and
"I don't see that Adam Scott holing a few more putts
is a problem. All it does is reward his ball striking
ability. Golf at the top level is a putting competition.
So guys who have used a long putter their whole
career have a case. This new rule will be a signi icant
handicap to them."
At the other end of the scale are those who see
the ban as merely "protection" of a game that is fast
becoming more science than art.
Somewhere in the middle is Sky television pundit,
"This was inevitable," says the leading coach, who
works with Ryder Cup players Francesco Molinari
and Ross Fisher. "At least some PGA Tour players
were always going to react this way. And they have
a case. For 30 years it's been okay to use a long
putter or a belly putter anchored to your body. If it
was introduced today, I'd be ine with banning it. But
it's been with us for a long time, maybe too long to
do anything about it. Plus, it's one thing to ban it for
amateurs it's another to do so for pros who use it to
earn a living.
"I understand the player's reaction. They are
thinking, 'why should I listen to a bunch of guys in
ties and shirts and jackets? I've built a career on this
method and now they want to take that away? I don't
So what exactly are we talking about here? Is
anchoring that much of an advantage?
"It's almost hypocritical of me I know, but I am totally
opposed to the belly putter," says former Ryder Cup
skipper Sam Torrance, a long-time broom-handle user.
"I used to attach the putter to my chin, so I was guilty
of 'anchoring.' Now, I don't do that, so the method I
use will be legal.
"To me, anchoring the belly putter is advantageous.
The analogy I use is if you put a table against a wall,
then slip a bit of paper between the wall and the table.
Then, using a pencil, draw a half circle. The likelihood
is the drawing will be pretty close to perfect. Now try
it after moving the table and the paper half an inch o
the wall. You'll make a mess of it. To me that is how the
belly putter works. And that is wrong.
"Can you imagine if we have di erent rules for tour
events, the US Open, the Open and the Ryder Cup?
That would be terrible for the game."
Another on the side of the authorities is Dubai Desert
Classic winner, Stephen Gallacher, who has dabbled
with the belly putter.
" I don't think anyone should be suing the R&A and
the USGA. All it does is open up a can of worms. I
could sue because I didn't get a drop from a rabbit
hole. It could get that silly. Then where does it all end?
"Padraig Harrington reckons changing the groove
rule cost him two shots per round. But he isn't suing
anyone. He knows the game is bigger than any
individual. I think we have to go with the rules makers;
they have the good of golf at heart. It's a bit alarming
when you see 12-year olds growing up using nothing
but belly putters. And I'm not alone in that view. Most
of the great players of the recent past are of the
Opinions. As is obvious from even a brief analysis of
this issue, everyone has one. Look for this dispute to
run for a while yet.
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